Electric vehicles require different maintenance and care to classic combustion engines: they have no spark plugs, exhaust system or gearbox. That saves time and money. Naturally, regular maintenance is still important.
Because of the different drive system, electric vehicles simply no longer need many parts of conventional engines. This includes components such as air, fuel and oil filters, engine cooling or spark plugs along with wear parts such as the exhaust system or clutch. Electric vehicles utilise three-phase synchronous motors which do not have wearing friction contacts and require almost no maintenance. Plus, e-vehicles do not need a manual gearbox. In other words, fewer components means lower maintenance costs.
The brakes number among the components which still require regular maintenance. However, electric vehicles make less use of these brakes and they have to be replaced less often as a result. This is due to the recuperation, for example. When the vehicle brakes, the kinetic energy is transformed into electrical energy and recuperated. Recuperation also has an engine braking effect and the actual brake system is used less, resulting in lower wear than in a combustion engine vehicle. In addition, the steering system, air conditioning, wheels and tyres need to be serviced. The general inspection also has to be carried out at similar intervals to a combustion engine vehicle.
Although many typical components of a combustion engine are no longer needed, an electric vehicle’s maintenance list now includes a number of special parts. One of these is the battery which is visually inspected: during general maintenance, the charging connection and wirings along with the condition of the battery are checked.
Most electric vehicles utilise lithium ion batteries. If you wish to treat the battery especially well, you should not leave the battery with a charge of less than 20% for longer periods of time. Similar to smartphones, which also use lithium ion batteries, the way you recharge the battery in an electric vehicle can extend the battery life. Charging with alternating current, for example using a household socket, is preferable to direct current charging at a quick charging station. Because the battery is the most expensive part of the vehicle, taking proper care of it is always worthwhile.
Electric vehicle owners also need to keep an eye on another important wear part: the tyres. Electric vehicles can produce far higher torque than most other vehicles. However, frequent high acceleration causes faster tyre wear. That is why gentle acceleration pays off. You need to consider the special requirements of electric vehicles when purchasing and maintaining the tyres.
Although electric vehicles also require regular inspections, just like conventional combustion engine cars, the maintenance and repair costs for electric vehicles are around 35% lower than a comparable vehicle with a combustion engine, according to the German “Institute for the Automotive Industry” (IFA). A current joint study from the “Institute for the Automotive Industry” and “DEKRA” estimates that as early as 2020, the total cost of ownership of an electric vehicle, including the purchase price, electricity, regular maintenance and repairs, will be 3.2% less than a combustion engine vehicle even without taking into consideration scrappage premiums and free recharging.
When it is time to take an electric vehicle in for inspection, you can essentially choose any workshop that carries out the inspection according to the manufacturer’s specifications. However, work on the high-voltage systems can only be carried out by appropriately trained and equipped workshops. Before starting work on the vehicle, the mechanic has to check whether the high-voltage system has been properly de-energised so that the work can be carried out without any problems. As a rule of thumb: if you choose a properly qualified workshop, you can be sure that all of the necessary criteria are met.